Rain and Zoe Save the World by Crystal Skillman at Jermyn Street Theatre is an action adventure story that follows two teenage friends as they embark on a journey to disrupt some oil refineries and pipelines in North America.
The play is about agency and idealism - sticking to your principles and taking action in order to change things
The play, directed by Hersh Ellis, is about agency and idealism - sticking to your principles and taking action in order to change things and make the world a better place. Both Rain (Jordan Benjamin) and Zoe (Mei Henri) manage to do this in spite of the various obstacles that lie in their way. They also succeed in spite of having had parents whom they felt had failed them.
The cast of four have to be admired for their efforts. Benjamin makes the most of the rare moments of vulnerability and introversion that his character allows. Richard Holt and Salma Shaw valiantly hold the production together with physical theatre devices and supporting characters. Holt is great both as Rain’s imagined dad and his best friend (who, in the funniest scene in the play, tries to help Rain and Zoe by making some guns using his 3D printer).
Jasmine Ricketts, the movement director, creates some magical moments - particularly the motorbike on which Zoe and Rain are travelling. The design team: Zoe Hurwitz (set and costume), Pablo Fernandez Baz (lighting), Elizabeth Mak (projections), and Ellie Roser (associate designer) make excellent use of the small space – enabling the play to move right across America from Yellowstone Park to a redneck bar, to a retirement home for burnt out activists and then deep into the oil refinery itself.
Unfortunately the plot is more complicated than it is complex; the play’s philosophy is overly simplistic; there is a lot of exposition and too much information dumping; the characters are drawn with all the bounce and simplicity of children’s TV presenters and I found myself wondering how young I would have to be to feel challenged and entertained by this play.
In the final scene, the lights are turned on the audience as if to inspire us towards similar action. Unfortunately, the play had somewhat the opposite effect on me and I went home resenting this particular style of activism because of its misuse of the theatre as its megaphone of choice.